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Cardiac conditions in the newborn

In this article, Dr Victoria Kain briefly touches on common signs of cardiac problems in the newborn.
A beautiful Asian newborn is being examined with a stethoscope.
© Griffith University

Heart problems in the newborn baby can be structural or non-structural. Let’s explore further.

If the newborn you are assessing has a heart condition, you would expect to observe the following:

  • diaphoresis (sweating), cool, moist skin

  • pallor (pale, pasty skin)

  • a mottled appearance to the skin, caused by prolonged capillary refill time (>2 seconds)

  • central cyanosis

  • difficulty feeding, due to intolerance of physical activity.

Structural problems are referred to as congenital heart conditions. A congenital condition is one you are born with. Examples of structural cardiac disease include problems relating to heart defects and defects of the blood vessels.

Some common examples of non-structural conditions relate to problems with heart function, the electrical activity in the heart and the presence of tumours.

Your task

Watch this short video, which will help you better understand congenital heart disease (CHD) and then post your comments below.

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.


Kain, V. & Mannix, T. (2018). Neonatal Nursing in Australia and New Zealand, 1st Edition. Australia: Elsevier.

© Griffith University
This article is from the free online

Assessment of the Newborn

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